RG-31 Mk5 US Army Mine-protected Armored Personnel Carrier
Kinetic Model Kit # K61015
Preview by Terry Ashley
The RG31 Mk5 is a 4x4 armoured mine-protected personnel carrier vehicle developed by BAE Systems in South Africa. The Mk5 is a standard variant in the RG-31 family and specially designed for resisting improvised explosives and mines. The vehicle can accommodate a crew of ten members. The RG31 Mk5 vehicle first went into service in early 2006
The RG31 vehicle has a range of features, including high mobility, ease of handling and air-conditioning for comfort. The vehicle's high level of protection against improvised explosive devices (IED) and landmines makes it adoptable for multipurpose military applications, such as blast-resistant patrol vehicles, armoured utility vehicle, command vehicle, surveillance vehicle and ambulance.
The RG31 Mk5 has a V-shaped monocoque-welded steel hull, which provides protection against lEDs and ballistic threats.
The vehicle can protect the occupants against a double landmine of TM-57 under any wheel and single TM-57 mine below the vehicle. It has a ballistic protection against 7.62mm armoured-piercing ammunition, small arm fires and anti-tank mines detonations. The all-steel welded armour can be enhanced with an add-on for enhancing the ballistic protection. The glass windows of the vehicle are bullet proofed and tinted for providing protection and clear vision. It also has night vision, and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection.
This new kit represents the US Army version with left hand drive controls and the extendable Interrogation Arm on the front right of the chassis and in essence is a different kit to the Mk3 not just a upgrade as reflected in the full-sized vehicle. As such most of the kit is made up of new parts with just a few used from the Mk3 as outlined below.The kit contents:
The kit has quite a few parts carried over from the previous Mk3 which are not used with the Mk5 leaving a good-sized spares box after building the kit.
- 584 parts in light grey plastic on 13 sprues;
- 6 sprues are carried over from the Mk3 with 250 parts, of these only 70 are used with the Mk5 leaving 180 for the spares box.
- 133 clear parts on 7 sprues.
- 4 sprues are carried over from the Mk3 with 83 parts, of these only 8 are used with the Mk5 leaving a further 75 for the spares box.
- 54 Etched parts on 1 fret.
- 21 vinyl parts including the 5 tyres.
- 8 figure parts, 7 in light grey plastic and 1 clear part.
- 1 small decal sheet
- 1, 22 page A4 instruction booklet.
- 1, A4 colour sheet painting guide.
Due to the many sprues carried over from the Mk3 there are numerous duplicate parts for the suspension/chassis, interior and some hull parts (real panel and doors) so take care to use the correct parts with this kit, this is made easier as all the new parts are included on the new X* sprues.
The standard of moulding is quite good overall with nice details but some parts need the edges smoothed as they are a little rough in places, there are also some very finely moulded parts but on some the detail isn't as crisp and well defined as on contemporary kits of today, there is also the odd small sink mark to deal with and a few recessed pin marks with some in difficult to get at places unfortunately, such as on the cabin doors and steering wheel. There is residue from the mould release agent that will need to be cleaned from quite a few of the parts before assembly and there is some minor flash about the place but nothing excessive.
The main clean-up is the quite prominent mould seam lines on most parts that will need removing before assembly and care is needed while cutting parts from the sprues as some of the attachment points are quite substantial, especially for some of the numerous small fine parts such as grab handles and the like.
The front axle/differential has the steering brackets as separate parts that allow you to assembly workable front steering but as we have seen on numerous previous kits when you fit the steering linkage (part XD33) it fixes the wheels in one position negating the movable steering. You can of course make the linkage workable by carefully cutting the segments apart and refitting with fine pins if you wish otherwise just glue with the wheels set at the desired angle. Again, there is the mould lines and parts clean-up before assembly for the best appearance.
Finally, there are the twin hydraulic shock absorbers added each side to finish off a quite nicely detailed front suspension unit that has all the major components included with just the brake cables you can add to the pneumatic front brake cylinders included with the wheel hubs for added details.
The rear axle/differential again has all the major components included such as the leaf spring units, pneumatic brake cylinders on the wheel hubs and triple shock absorber on either side plus other smaller details. There is again the usual clean-up required especially and the prominent brake lines that can be added if you wish. The Tankograd book listed below has some excellent pictures showing the brake lines on the front and rear axles to help you to add this additional detail if you wish?While all of the suspension parts are new for some reason the wheel rims/hubs are not and you still get the same ones as included in the Mk3 kit, these unfortunately are not correct for the Mk5 which has rims/hubs quite different in the details. There is little that can be done about this if building the kit from the box but there will no doubt be resin wheels produced for those wishing to update these to the correct details but hopefully the correct rims/hubs will be included at some stage?
The spare wheel mounting (part XG5) should be added to the RIGHT side of the lower V hull and not the LEFT side as shown in step 2 of the instructions (the V hull is shown inverted in the illustration). The left side mounting is not fitted when the Interrogation Arm is fitted but more on that later. Note; the illustrations throughout show the spare mounting plate on BOTH sides of the hull but again this is incorrect and it should only be fitted to the RIGHT side with this model.
The front instrument panel matches the photos in the Tankograd book very well with all the dials, switches etc. included in the right places as raised details along with the separate small GPS unit on the right side. The central console has separate gear levers with the under-dash air-com unit and separate steering column and wheel which goes to make for a busy unit. While all the details are included some are a little understated and there are again the mould lines that need care removing from the smaller parts along with an annoying small sink mark in the middle of the steering wheel that will need filling but having everything included and basically correct in detail is a good start.The instruments as mentioned are raised details and you are provided decals for many of the switches and data placards that in theory are to go over the raised detail but given the thickness of the decals and the size of the raised detail this looks to be mission impossible. Cutting up the decals and added the switch faces and placards separately may be a better option or simply hand painting these using the decals as guides?
The front bucket seats are again nicely representative of the actual seats but you will need to add the seat belts yourself from tape or similar to finish these off.
In the back is a separate floor with treadplate pattern along with numerous equipment lockers, brackets and racks plus the crew seats including the central post with top gunner's platform. The two fire extinguishers and etched racks mounted on the inside of the rear plate are also included along with additional etched parts added details, again there is some clean-up of the parts needed before assembly which can be a little time consuming with the many smaller parts.
All the details match well with the photos in the Tankograd book so again the basics are there portrayed correctly for a good start with just the seat belts to be added along with any other smaller detail you wish to add.
The separate front doors need a little preparation as there are some small sink marks on the lower window sills and a few pin marks on the insides if you planning to show the doors open and it's best to deal with these before assembling to doors proper.
While on the doors the armoured windows are not tinted and you will need to add the green/blue tinting (along with all the other windows), the outside door handles are moulded within the recess while the inside handles are separate for better definition as is the two-part rear view mirrors. Additional separate parts on the inside include the combat lock, the pneumatic arm and lock, the upper arm-rest and lower storage compartment for a nicely represented door assembly,
The separate hull side windows and windshield frames include the retaining bolts and being separate don't suffer from sink marks on the sills like the two side doors thankfully with the armoured glass added, the windshield has separate fine wiper blades that will need care removing from the sprues and in clean-up as they are quite fine.
Leaving the doors open on the model would be a good option to show off the nice inner details but note the pneumatic arm and lock are not fitted if the door is assembled closed. The fit of the doors to the hull in the closed position is good so the choice is yours.
There are about twenty separate fine grab handles of different sizes added around the hull that again need care in clean-up but being separate and not moulded in place as is often the case gives very good detail definition on the model. There are also six lifting hook points added to the front and sides and again these give good definition being separate. The fourteen spot lights around the roof are in clear plastic and painting the backs silver before adding the black finish will enhance the clear lens effect.
Added on each side of the hull are the two four-part spare tyre winches (parts XB73, 74, 75, 81 and XF15, 17, 78 and 79) used for removing the spares but although this particular model only carries one spare on the right side both the winches are still fitted to the hull as per the instructions. The Interrogation Arm battery and mounting (parts XB61, XD15, 15) are fitted to the left hull side in step 30 in place of the spare tyre.
The two rear roof hatches also have separate inside and outside handles and latches for good definition along with an additional inside roof console added above the driver's station with etched parts from the lights and other details. Speaking of the roof, it should be noted that both the top of the bonnet (hood) and the roof (including the two rear hatches) have anti-slip coating added with a weld bead running long ways down the centre of the roof and these details can be added if you wish before fitting other details.
The front fenders that include the armoured cooling fan grills having nicely defined engraved grills with the rear storage lockers having separate doors plus the two step rails. The tops of the boxes that form the entry steps are separate and have non-slip texturing included. The right-side fender has a separate pioneer tool rack although the tools are moulded in place.
The two-rear fender covers are also separate with the left side having separate doors for the three storage compartments included, the right-side cover doesn't include any storage boxes as correctly depicted on the kit part.
The Duke Antenna with separate mounting base is also added to the left rear corner of the hull.
The front grill panel has a number of smaller fittings added along with two clear light, these have etched guards for a good appearance. Added to the grill is the large lower bumper and front winch plate, these are nicely moulded with a further set of lights with etched grills and bending these shouldn't pose any problems.
Added to the bumper is the left side 'Interrogation Arm hydraulic distribution box' and right side 'Interrogation Arm mounting base' for a fairly detailed and busy sub-assembly. As mentioned throughout the clean-up of the smaller parts will need care with the assembled grill/bumper than added to the hull front with the fit being good and fitting the side fenders at the same time will ensure everything is aligned okay but there didn't seem to be any issues on my test fitting.
The mounting brackets for the SPARK mine roller system are on the box top illustration and appear briefly in the illustration at page 17 and on the final decal instruction diagrams on page 22 but other than that there is no other mention in the instructions. The inclusion of the mounting parts may mean a second kit could be in the works that includes the mine rollers?
If you wanted to add the mounting brackets bearing in mind the rollers themselves aren't included in the kit, the parts used are: XB63, 64, 82, 83, XD7, 13, 29 and XF37, 40, 41.
To add the rollers themselves you would need the Legend Productions resin/etched set #LF1279 "SPARK Mine Roller for RG-31" which will fill the bill nicely.
At the back is the separate rear plate, be sure to use the correct one (part XF29) as the earlier Mk3 plate is still lurking on the sprues. There was some minor flash about to trim, mostly around the lower chassis end sections but nothing excessive and there are numerous smaller parts added including the tail light with again etched guards, steps with treadplate, these are a little on the thick side and thinning somewhat will improve the appearance. There are two tow hooks with shackles and the central tow pintle and a large grab handle to the left of the door and again all these need the usual clean-up care.
The separate rear door has similar levels of details as the front doors with separate door handle and grab handle on the outside and separate handles, combat lock and hydraulic opening mechanism on the inside but again the armoured glass will need to be tinted as mentioned. Leaving the door open to show off the inner detail is the better option as the fit in the closed position isn't all that good, you will need to cut away some of the moulded door detail on the inside and test fit/trim often to get it to fit properly.
The fit of the rear panel to the hull is very good so there aren't any problems there, just the fit of the door itself to the rear panel unfortunately.
The fit of all the major hull components such as V lower to upper hull, the fenders, front grill and rear panels was all good without any issues, just the actual rear door as mentioned.
Added to the roof is the Gunner Protection Kit with base (with roof hatch), side armour panels with bullet proof glass, plus the front shield with a choice of M2 .50cal MG or Mk.19 Grenade launcher as weapons. These parts are carried over from the previous Kinetic kit of the Maxx Pro and the quality is not up to the rest of the kit, the M2 and M19 can best be described a 'poor' with very basic and 'rough' details included. Thankfully there are numerous update sets with resin/metal .50cal sets to replace the kit gun and also some Mk.19s should you wish?
Some images of Mk5s show them fitted with the later CROWS II weapons station and again this set is available from various resin/etched update set producers should you wish for this update?
The main thing with the arm is the myriad of hydraulic lines that need to be added, these are shown on the box top illustration but if fact there are far more than shown. These basically run up the along the arm itself, across the front and around to the left side mounted battery case and around the right side into the cabin, the Tankograd Fast Track book has some excellent photos of the hydraulics that will be a great assistance in adding this important feature. Using thin rod solder or thin wire of varying thickness is a good option to allow the curves and subtle bends of the lines to be replicated.
Also included is a EOD figure wearing explosive protective gear for when interrogating any devices found and can be used as desired with the vehicle.
The production standard is good overall but there is quite a bit of clean-up needed on most parts with some mould release still present, excessive mould lines and hefty sprue attachments on many parts that will need care removing and the occasional fine flash and a few sink/pins marks but not overly so thankfully.
The details on most of the new parts well done and quite crisp and the many smaller parts such as grab handles and latches while needing some clean-up help with the overall detail definition as does the inclusion of the etched metal parts. The fit is also good overall but as mentioned careful clean-up of the parts will ensure the optimum fit.
This kit does show an improvement overall from previous Kinetic kits which can only be a good thing and will make a nice addition to the MRAP fleet.
For those wishing to really detail up this kit the Tankograd Fast Track book listed below is indispensable with excellent detailed close-up photos of every aspect of the vehicle inside and out.
Fast Track 09
Modern U.S. Army Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles
Tankograd Publishing Nr. 3011
Squadron Signal in-action #12054
to help the reviews continue, thank you